Will be going to aruba a curacao very soon on cruise. I would like information on doing independent tours on these two islands. Can you recommend any tour operators? Also would like recommendations on the best beaches, best snorkling, unique shopping, and interesting sites. Thanks
I was in Curacao in November. We had lunch at a place in the back of the main local's market....I don't know if it had a name, just walk across the footbridge in the port and ask around. One of the local women cooked us fish and fried plantains, it was very interesting to watch....also if you can check out the Curacao aquarium, very very interesting and one of the employees even took us on a private "behind the scenes" tour of the entire aquarium at no charge.
As for Aruba, the Atlantis submarine was amazing, but quite pricy at about $75 a person if I remember correctly.
i have been to both islands and i must say i liked the shopping in aruba much better then curacao..beautiful and well known stores in aruba..nice cafes..in curacao i thought the shopping was poor..unless things have changed,i felt most of the stores were geared to the natives,rather then tourists,i was disapointed...
We were in Aruba and Curacao in Feb. 2000. We have cruised Caribbean, Panama Canal and Hawaii and with the possible exception of Anitgua, Aruba and Curacao are far and away our favorites.
Willemstad is very clean and bright. The buildings along the harbor are painted bright colors and you can really feel the dutch heritage as soon as you disembark. We just did some shopping in Curacao and found it quite "user friendly" ... lots of good shops in a close proximity.
In Aruba, we hired a driver for about three hours (four of us paid $60 total) and he showed us the island. Went to a beautiful church who's name escapes me now, the natural bridge ... nice pace ... this is much preferable to tour buses where you are either rushed or waiting around for everyone to board. Our driver basically took us everywhere the tour buses went, but we had a little more personal flavor.
There are also a number of catamaran sails available in Aruba ... absolutely beautiful scenery sailing down the coast!!
Whatever you do, enjoy ... we're hoping to go back next winter.
Aruba has beautiful beaches that are easy to get to on the city buses. Just walk out to the main street from the pier, cross the street and wait for a bus that says Palm beach. Get off near the Holiday Inn (they often will rent your a lounge). If you decide to tour first take a morning tour for no more than 3 hours to the Lighthouse, Natural bridge, Santa Anna Church, past the ruins and to baby beach. You will have seen it all. Shiva is a good jewelry store, Penha is represented at Aruba too for Cologne and skin care items. There are many shops in the mall on the main Street. In Curacuo, take a taxi to the Aquarium, visit it, then go to the adjacent beach for a while. There is an entry fee but since you love beaches it is worth it. This is a man-made beach with facilities, lounges, refreshments, etc. Have the taxi return for you and drop you off in town. Walk around the center; park, Oldest Jewish Synagoge, Indian Style hotel are places to see. The marketplace is along the waterway, but be a little extra carefull if you walk around there. Walk back over the pontoon bridge and have a great day. Don't waste your time on the Liquor factory, it is a joke!